Toasted Rice Ice Cream

If I had to choose a dessert to enjoy for the rest of forever, it would be ice cream.

Toasted Rice Ice Cream

My favorite is to scoop some into a mug late at night and let it get a little melty while watching TV. But I’m also happy to pull into a drive-through for a vanilla ice cream-like product cone. Just no nuts, please and thank you.

Sadly, we don’t have Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams where I live. But she has shared lots of recipes for ice cream and other treats in her book. And she shared a technique for getting super smooth ice cream without making custard that is full of eggs. [Read more…]

Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Have you noticed lately that all the cookies are being baked into snickerdoodles?

Chocolate snickerdoodles 3

I’ve seen everything from gingerbread to peanut butter cookies twisted into snickerdoodles.  It doesn’t end with cookies either.  With a quick search on Pinterest, you’ll find waffles, cupcakes, and truffles, to name a few. Chocolate Snickerdoodles [Read more…]

English Muffins

I’ve never thought twice about buying English muffins from the grocery store.  For years I’ve opened that store-purchased bag, sliced one open, dropped it into the toaster, and been content with what popped out. 

English Muffin Pile
But the first time I looked through the Dahlia Bakery cookbook and saw pages of English muffins topped with ham and eggs, Hollandaise, and fruity jam, I wanted to try making them myself.  This project required waiting for a Saturday that I could commit the time for all the steps involved with resting and proofing the dough, but let me tell you, it was worth the wait. 

English Muffins 3

As suggested by the authors, I prepared the dough the first day, then shaped and baked the muffins the next day.  I won’t lie; the shaping part turned out being pretty messy.  When the instructions said to divide the dough into equal pieces, I reached for my food scale as I always do when making dinner or hamburger rolls.  But that wasn’t going to happen.  The dough was much too wet for that, and I couldn’t be tempted to add more flour.  I used a bench scraper to finish dividing the dough, and they may not have all been the same size but I was okay with that.

English Muffins 2

When the muffins finished baking and I pulled them out of the oven, they actually looked like I hoped they would.  I cut into one and saw the beautiful, craggy holes that are perfect for soaking up endless varieties of toppings.  And then I took a bite.  You know when you spend a decent amount of time on something, and it actually meets all your expectations?  Yeah, that’s totally what happened. [Read more…]

Sandwich Bread

When I was growing up, my mom occasionally baked bread, although I don’t think I really appreciated it.  When I was in high school, she got a bread machine.  My sisters and I thought it was the best invention ever.
Sandwich bread

First thing in the morning, she would dump all the ingredients inside and set the timer.   Then we’d all come home after school and stand in the kitchen together and eat bread.  We sliced the almost perfectly square loaf (with a hole in the middle for the blade), and drizzled it with squeezable butter and honey.  It was the best.

Sliced sandwich bread

Years later when I wanted to make my own bread, the only way I dared was to use the bread machine my mom bought for me.  I thought that working with yeast was way too scary.  Even when I began baking bread in the oven, I actually mixed the dough and let it rise in the magic box that made perfect dough every time.  What?  But eventually I got brave enough to try, and it turned out that there was nothing to fear.

The most intimidating part was getting the water to the right temperature for the yeast to do its thing.  A food thermometer makes that part easy, but it isn’t completely necessary.  King Arthur Flour has some great tips for activating yeast and working with dough.  And one thing I’ve learned to do, whether or not it’s in the recipe, is add a bit of honey to the yeast and warm water.  Yeast really likes honey.

Sandwich bread 2

Once the yeast gets going, the rest is easy and fun.  In just a few hours when your kitchen smells like fresh baked bread, you’ll be ready for a slice.  Just remember, it tastes the best standing right there in the kitchen.

Sandwich Bread
Bakes Two Loaves (8 x 4-inch)

1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 1/3 cups whole milk

3 ½ cups bread flour, as needed

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Sprinkle the yeast over 1/3 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees)  and honey in a small bowl.  Let stand 5 minutes, and then stir well to dissolve.  Pour into the mixer bowl.  Add 1 cup cold milk and the sugar and whisk to combine.

Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment.  On low speed, beat in half of the flour, then the salt.  Add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until it is absorbed into the dough.  Continue adding enough of the flour to make a soft dough that cleans the bowl. You might be tempted to keep adding flour to make it easier to work with, but please don’t do it.  You want the dough to be  a bit tacky or sticky to make soft bread.  Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook.  Knead on medium-low speed until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.

Spray the inside of a medium bowl with cooking spray.  Shape the dough into a taut ball.  Place in the bowl and turn to coat with spray on all sides.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 ¼ hours.

Lightly spray the insides of two 8 x 4 x 2 ½-inch loaf pans with cooking spray.  Divide the dough in half.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Gently pressing to deflate the dough, shape into a thick 8-inch long rectangle.  Starting from the long side, rolls and shape into an 8-inch long loaf and press the long seam closed.  Place, seam side down, in the pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Slip the pans into tall food-safe plastic bags.  Tightly close the bags, trapping air in the bag to partially inflate it.  Let stand until the loaves gently dome about an inch above the tops of the pans, about 45 minutes, then remove from the bags.

Bake the loaves, uncovered, until golden brown 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully slide the bread out of the pan.  Turn the bread over and tap the bottom.  It will sound hollow when done.  The internal temperature should be about 190 degrees.  Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, unmold onto racks, and cool completely.

Recipe from Sarabeth’s Bakery:  From My Hands To Yours

Coconut Nutella Surprise Cookies

Coconut Nutella Cookies 4

At first glance, it isn’t obvious that these tasty cookies are made with Nutella.  Even after a bite or two, you will enjoy the delicate coconut flavor enhanced with chewy oatmeal, but you might wonder, “Is there really Nutella in here?”  That’s when the surprise comes in, and BAM, you bite into the smooth and creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread, and it all comes together.
Coconut Nutella Cookies 3It seems like only a short while has passed since I made these cookies, but since time flies so quickly, it’s actually been close to a couple months.  I wanted to make a Friday treat, and couldn’t decide between two different cookies that I’d seen that week on Pinterest, both from Two Peas & Their Pod.  The first was a coconut oatmeal cookie that practically called my name.  The only hesitation I had about bringing it to work was that not all people are lovers of coconut.  And by that, I mean that the people who aren’t lovers of this ingredient seem to be haters.  The second cookie that caught my attention that week was a giant chocolate chip cookie stuffed with Nutella in the middle.  I was pretty sure this would be a sure hit, since everyone I work with loves them some Nutella.  But I did mention the coconut recipe was calling my name, and so the decision was made to combine the two.  Done and done.
Nutella scoopsCoconut Nutella dough

I decided to follow Annie’s method for stuffing her Nutella cookies on Annie’s Eats, and it worked perfectly.  Thursday morning before work, I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and placed scoops of Nutella on the parchment.  I stuck the sheet in the freezer, and left it there until I was ready to make cookies that night.   And just to make the coconut a little friendlier for everyone, I pulsed it in the food processor with the oatmeal just a bit.  My friends, we have a winner.    [Read more…]

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

I like everything about cookies.  It’s true.  Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies 4

Cookies are probably my favorite thing to bake.  They are easy to whip together most of the time, they are portable, and they please a crowd.  From the time I was a young person when my mom let me bake Snickerdoodles by myself, I have enjoyed browsing cookbooks for new cookies, and more recently, finding them online to tuck away on the pages of Pinterest.  And for real, who doesn’t love a good cookie?Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies And this cookie is definitely one of my faves.  It meets all the above criteria, and as a plus, you don’t even need a mixer to make the dough.  You could be noshing on these cranberry white chocolate cookies soon after the cookie craving strikes. [Read more…]

Cinnamon Honey Scones

Happy 2013!Honey Cinnamon Scones

I thought it would be fun to start out the new year by baking something from the Bouchon Bakery.  I know the cookbook came out way back in the fall of 2012, but it’s a pretty hefty book with so many recipes to choose from.  Actually, that’s not true.  I woke up one Sunday morning in December with the intention of filling the house with the aroma of cinnamon honey scones, but it didn’t work out.  Cinnamon Honey Scones

You see, when I saw the recipe in Thomas Keller’s new book, I knew they’d be perfect for a Sunday morning, but I didn’t actually read the recipe all the way through.  I should have known better with a recipe from Mr. Keller, because these scones required a little preparation the day before.  Whoops. Cinnamon Honey Scones

Fast forward a few weeks later when I remembered to start the scones on Saturday.  Despite the list of steps and ingredients, these cinnamon honey scones are no more difficult than other scones to make.  The cinnamon honey cubes are the component prepared in advance, and they are worth it.  Honey, cinnamon, and butter are mixed with flour to make a paste, which is frozen and cut into cubes and scattered throughout the scone dough, where they melt into pockets and ribbons of flavor. [Read more…]

Cherry Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Apricot CookiesIs it really December?  It really can’t be.  But the calendar doesn’t lie, and neither does my email inbox that’s flooded with subject lines like Hurry Up and Buy Now Because This is the Best Christmas Sale Ever.

Cherry Apricot Cookies 2
So you know what that means.   It’s time to start cranking out the sugar cookies and the pumpkin rolls and the caramels and all that fun stuff.  Maybe you’re on the ball and already there, but I’m not.  Before jumping into the holiday baking craziness,  I wanted to bake something simple.  Something with oatmeal and maybe some dried fruit.  I found this recipe in the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook and thought the Cranberry Apricot  would be just right.
I thought I had everything I needed, but when I started measuring out my ingredients, I didn’t have any cranberries.  No worries though.  My baker assistant remembered the dried cherries in the pantry and the recipe was changed just like that. [Read more…]

Cocoa Shortbread Cut-out Cookies

Can you believe that it’s time for Halloween already?  Soon the neighborhood will be full of trick-or-treating witches, superheroes, and princesses.  But then we’ll blink, and it will be covered in snow, Christmas lights, and the occasional inflatable Santa.
These cocoa shortbread cut-outs are so easy to whip up for any holiday, and they’re tasty, too.  In Martha Stewart’s Cookies, they’re cut as simple diamond shapes and drizzled with melted white chocolate.  But you can cut them into as many shapes as you have cutters.  The dough mixes up in a food processor, and is ready to be rolled out right away.  No chilling required – bonus.
While we’re on the subject of Halloween, did you watch Modern Family last week?  That show always cracks me up, but especially the Halloween episodes.  Only Claire could dress as Little Bo Peep and still frighten the kids away.  [Read more…]

Pumpkin English Muffin Bread

Picture this.  It’s a lovely fall morning, perfect for staying indoors and baking.  Even better, for baking pumpkin bread that fills the house with the aromas of cinnamon and warm spices.  Everything was in place until there was a knock at the door.  Who was it?  It was that familiar girl Carmen karma, coming to pay another visit.
I opened my laptop to find Jessica’s recipe that looked like heaven, only to be stuck in hell with a crashed computer, for the second time in a month.  In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a serious problem.  However, I would like to be able to settle on a laptop and move on.
[Read more…]

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